Winnipeg beer fans have been plenty patient. With the forthcoming onslaught (well, maybe that’s overstating it) of breweries and brew pubs slated to open over the next year, hop-heads can be forgiven if they are starting to act like over-sugared kids on Christmas Eve, bouncing off the walls in anticipation of Santa coming.
For now there’s Peg Beer Co., a brew pub that isn’t serving its own beer quite yet (coming soon), but offers a tidy, rotating selection of beers from across Canada and beyond, as well as a couple of guest taps.
Torque Brewing Co. and Barn Hammer Brewing Co. will likely be the second and third breweries to open, located on King Edward Street and Wall Street, respectively.
Keeping a relatively low profile but seemingly next up after the above three is Little Brown Jug Brewing Company, which will be located on William Avenue near Red River College.
(Aside: There also appears to be a craft distillery forthcoming as well. Capital K Distillery’s bare-bones website states it will be "the first grain-to-bottle distillery in Winnipeg," that will be open "before summer 2016" and is located on Dublin Avenue. Pictures on its Facebook page indicate construction is well underway.)
Organizers of the Flatlanders Beer Festival are hoping at least a few of these budding breweries will be ready to go for this year’s fest on June 24 and 25 at the MTS Centre. We shall see.
Until then, as the mercury rises, it’s as good a time as any to try some new/new-ish beers to the province…
The Barkerville Brewing Co. Mucho Oro Lager (Quesnel, B.C. — $2.90/473ml can) is medium gold and slightly hazy in colour. This B.C. lager brings nice maltiness, with some underlying floral and citrus notes showing well. It’s light and crisp, with those malt notes front and centre, lighter herbal flavours and an almost brown-sugary note underneath that brings a hint of sweetness. As lagers go, this one’s quite tasty. 3/5
New on the macro brew front is the Rickard’s Red Session Lager (Canada — $2.92/473ml can). It’s deep copper in colour and clear, with malt and dried fruit notes on the nose. It’s fairly simple on the palate, with those malty notes joined by some bruised-apple flavours. 2/5
More lager action: the Resignation Brewery KCCO Gold Lager (Austin, Texas — $3.25/355ml bottle) is medium gold and clear, with pretty roasted malt, red apple skin and barley notes. It’s a tasty lager, bringing malt and barley notes on the palate and just a hint of red apple. Not earth-shattering, but solid. 3/5
On the lighter front as well is the Fort Garry Brewing Company Pilsner (Winnipeg — $2.96/473ml can). Medium gold and clear, this lighter brew brings roasted malt and caramel notes on the nose, with some secondary vanilla and toffee notes that hint at sweetness. It’s light and it’s crisp, with just a touch of sweetness accentuated by malt and caramel flavours. Not as good as the Frontier they released a couple years ago, but not too shabby. 2.5/5
At select growler bars right now is the Lake of the Woods Big Timber IPA (Kenora, Ont. — $7.76/946ml howler or $14/1.89L growler). Medium copper in colour and clear, there are some pine tree and resinous notes on the nose that work well with malty and modest citrus notes. It’s dry and crisp on the palate, with the mild resinous/pine note hanging around and working well with citrus rind and malt notes. 3/5
If you like things even hoppier, the Black Bridge Double IPA (Swift Current, Sask. — $3.91/355ml can) will be up your alley. Medium copper and a bit cloudy, the grapefruit and pine notes come through big-time on the nose, with some resin and lemon rind notes in there as well. It brings intense hops on the medium-bodied palate, with loads of resin, pine, tart citrus and even black pepper flavours showing well. A great double IPA for the price from Black Bridge — everything I’ve tried from this Saskatchewan brewery has been pretty impressive. 4/5
On the darker side of things is the Tree Brewing Co. Raw Series Black Lager (Kelowna, B.C. — $2.50/355ml bottle). Deep black in colour with a beige head, there are resinous and toffee notes on the nose of this dark lager. On the deceptively light-bodied palate (given the beer’s deep colour), the dark chocolate and mocha notes come through nicely, with an underlying hint of smoke that adds complexity. 4/5
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.